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Competitiveness: Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft Online Services
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Competitiveness: Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft Online Services

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Competitiveness went virtual, closing its offices and decommissioning its infrastructure. Since then, it has been running its global business using Google Apps, WebEx, and a dozen other Web-based …

Competitiveness went virtual, closing its offices and decommissioning its infrastructure. Since then, it has been running its global business using Google Apps, WebEx, and a dozen other Web-based tools. The multiplicity of passwords and user interfaces, poor integration, and inconsistent levels of functionality were subtly undermining its ability to conduct business effectively. The company implemented the Business Productivity Online Suite from Microsoft Online Services and can now access the majority of services it needs from one provider, with a single sign-on, and provide better integration between online and offline applications to help ensure that its employees can work more effectively than ever.

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  • 1. Microsoft Online Services Customer Solution Case Study Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft Online Services ®Overview “You want the interaction with the tools you need toCountry or Region: SpainIndustry: Consulting do your work to feel frictionless—and when we had a dozen tools and passwords and user interfaces it wasCustomer ProfileCompetitiveness works with clusters of not frictionless at all..”companies, local, and state governments Emiliano Duch, CEO, Competitivenessto increase the competitiveness of thecluster. The company works with clients In 2007, the Spanish consulting firm Competitiveness went virtual,around the world and operates virtually,with no physical offices of its own. closing its offices and decommissioning its infrastructure. Since then, it has been running its global business using Google Apps,Business SituationCompetitiveness employees were relying WebEx, and a dozen other Web-based tools. While Competitivenesson Google Apps and a dozen other online was comfortable with the idea of working online, the multiplicity ofservices. Compatibility issues and the needto remember so many distinct passwords passwords and user interfaces, poor integration, and inconsistentand manage so many distinct user levels of functionality were subtly undermining its ability to conductinterfaces were compromising employeeeffectiveness. business effectively. Competitiveness turned to the Centro de Innovación en Productividad for help, and CIP introduced it to theSolutionCompetitiveness executives conferred with Business Productivity Online Suite from Microsoft Online Services.the Centro de Innovación en Productividad, Competitiveness can now access the majority of services it needswhere they discovered the BusinessProductivity Online Suite from Microsoft from one provider, with a single sign-on, and better integrationOnline Services. between online and offline applications, ensure that its employeesBenefits can work more effectively than ever.Single sign-on to required applicationsGreater inter-application integrationConsistent user interface and conventionsImproved efficiency
  • 2. Situation evolving companies in Catalonia to improve Competitiveness provides consulting services productivity through better use of technology. that helps clusters of companies become When CIP showed Competitiveness the more competitive in the global marketplace. Business Productivity Online Suite from It has 25 full time employees and, at any Microsoft Online Services, the end of the given time, 25 or more customer trainees struggle appeared to be in sight. working all over the world. While Competitiveness is officially based in Solution Barcelona, the company operates virtually. It The Business Productivity Online Suite from has no formal office space. In fact, since Microsoft Online Services enables 2007, Competitiveness has operated entirely Competitiveness to gain access to a range of online and relied on cloud-based applications integrated, enterprise-class services without and infrastructure from Google and other having to procure or maintain an in-house service providers. infrastructure for those services. Microsoft Online Services enables access to“We also used to use Competitiveness was comfortable with the collaboration tools and shared workspaces, idea of working online, but the company’s workflow, desktop and mobile e-mail,Google Talk to do needs had given rise to a complex mixture of calendaring and contacts, instant messaging,meetings, but we could services. On any given day, its 50 users presence, audio/video conferencing, and worked with Google Apps, SugarCRM, WebEx, Web conferencing. Yet because thenot use it to have MindSalt, SurveyMonkey, BeamYourScreen, applications supporting these services—meetings with multiple and more. In all, Competitiveness was relying including Microsoft SharePoint® Online, on more than a dozen application and service Microsoft Exchange Online, Office Livepeople, so the Business providers. That meant more than a dozen Meeting, and Microsoft OfficeProductivity Online Suite user interfaces and more than a dozen Communications Online—run on servers passwords for each employee to remember residing in a state-of-the-art Microsoft datawill really help us with and re-enter on a daily basis. The Google center, neither Competitiveness nor CIPgroup interactions.” applications tended to be somewhat basic in needs to invest in on-premises infrastructure their functionally, too, so Competitiveness to take advantage of these services.Emiliano Duch, CEO, Competitiveness employees typically ran the Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools on their laptops and Microsoft hosts and maintains the servers used those whenever preparing final docs with its own staff of hardware and software and presentations for clients. Given the experts, supplies patches and security difficulties of saving those documents in updates in real time, and guarantees 99.9 Google Docs without formatting issues, they percent uptime with a financially-backed SLA, had to resort to a different cloud-based so Competitiveness employees always have repository accessed through yet another access to the latest, most up-to-date versions application. of the applications to which they subscribe. CIP can provide Competitiveness with After a year and a half of struggling to make support, training, and other value-added online applications work, Competitiveness services to enable the company to make the executives approached the Centro de most of this online solution. Innovación en Productividad (CIP) in Manresa, Spain, which works closely with
  • 3. CIP and the Business Productivity Online more difficult for employees to work optimally Suite offers still other advantages. Instead of in a virtual environment. having to purchase separate server and client licenses for infrastructure components such A Streamlined Online Experience as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server or By itself, the Business Productivity Online Microsoft Exchange Server, Competitiveness Suite from Microsoft Online Services provides can, though CIP, simply subscribe to the many of the features and functions that applications its users need on a per-user, per- Competitiveness had been relying on multiple month basis. This eliminates up-front providers to deliver—and it provides access to licensing costs and enables Competitiveness all these services with a single password and to cover the nominal expense of accessing a consistent user interface. Employees can these services using its operational rather continue to use the Microsoft Office than capital budget. CIP enables applications on their laptops and save their Competitiveness to provide its users with documents and presentations to a access to the entire Business Productivity SharePoint Online workspace in the cloud. Online Suite for one low monthly fee. If a user“We can easily share were to need access to only one service— “The degree of integration among thesefiles without worrying Microsoft Exchange Online, for example—CIP applications is one of the most valuable could set up the service so that that user aspects of the Business Productivity Onlineabout the format could access just that service, and at an even Suite,” says Duch. “We can easily share filesbecoming corrupted lower monthly fee to Competitiveness. The without worrying about the format becoming choice belongs to Competitiveness. corrupted because we saved it online. Thatbecause we saved it saves a lot of headaches and rework.online. That saves a lot Benefits For Competitiveness, the Business “The other aspect is the ease with which weof headaches and Productivity Online Suite has proven to be an can choose to work online or offline,” Duchrework.” ideal solution. CIP set up accounts and goes on to say. “If our users were trying to migrated the company’s users from their use Google Apps before, they could only do itEmiliano Duch, CEO, Competitiveness older online applications in a matter of while online. They could not use these weeks. Now, the only online services applications while they were on a plane or Competitiveness relies on aside from the unable to get a good connection. That’s one Business Productivity Online Suite are its of the other reasons why our users chose to online banking and customer relationship run Microsoft Office on their laptops—so they management (CRM) solutions. The could be productive while offline. The functionality delivered by the online services Microsoft online and offline applications formerly used by Competitiveness complement each other, so they can create consultants are now supported by Microsoft offline and save online when they get a Online Services and the Business Productivity chance to reconnect. In this way, the Online Suite. The net results include a more Microsoft Office applications on the laptop streamlined online experience, greater and the Microsoft Online Services in the flexibility and security for developing project- cloud work very well together.” specific communities of interest, and what Emiliano Duch, CEO of Competitiveness, calls Group interactions are similarly streamlined. a decrease in the “friction” that had made it “To call an online meeting before, someone
  • 4. had to go into WebEx, enter the password, set closed system and we can control who has up the meeting, and send an e-mail to all the access.” participants. They’d have to open the e-mail message and click on the link to join. Now, Today, the idea of “online” is synonymous using Office Live Meeting, all of that is done with “open,” says Duch, but for a business automatically. We also used to use Google like Competitiveness, the idea of “online” and Talk to do meetings, but we could not use it “closed” is more important. “That’s actually to have meetings with multiple people, so the something that’s difficult to find in many of Business Productivity Online Suite will really the online systems that are out there,” Duch help us with group interactions. We want continues, “particularly in systems that online meetings to be easy, as though we originated as free services and became fee- were sitting in the same room—even when based services after the fact. Google, Skype, we’re not.” and others—they all began as free consumer- Business-class Flexibility and Security oriented services and then they tried to For Duch, the Business Productivity Online become professional. But you’re still sharing“If our users were trying Suite also offers levels of flexibility and the same infrastructure with the freeto use Google Apps security that he found missing from other services. The services in the Business online services. Competitiveness works on Productivity Online Suite started asbefore, they could only many projects simultaneously. Many of its enterprise-class services for individualdo it while online. . . . projects involve training local businesspeople companies, with a lot of attention paid to to run their operations in new ways, so these privacy and security, and then they movedThe Microsoft online and trainees need access to the same online online. For Competitiveness, that’s a realoffline applications tools and collaboration spaces that advantage. With the Business Productivity Competitiveness consultants use. At the Online Suite, we gain the flexibility andcomplement each other, same time, Competitiveness needs to scalability benefits of being online, but weso they can create maintain control over its intellectual assets also gain the privacy and security benefits and needs to set up its project spaces with that an offline system would ensure.”offline and save online different levels of security and user access.when they get a chance Eliminating Friction, Increasing “We’re building intranets for our consultants Effectivenessto reconnect.” and selected groups of participants” explains For the consultants and executives atEmiliano Duchy, CEO, Competitiveness Duch, “but we want them to be closed. These Competitiveness, the need to enter a dozen are essentially communities of interest, but different passwords on a daily basis and to we don’t want them to be linked with any navigate a dozen distinct user interfaces others. The problem with using an online were problems less of productivity and more service such as LinkedIn or Face book to do of operating efficiency. “We want our people this is that once you join a community to be at ease working online,” says Duch. “We everyone knows who you have as friends. We want them to feel as comfortable interacting want the opposite: we want our clients to with people online as they would be meeting understand that it’s an advantage to be in face to face, even if the people they’re our network, that being in our network they interacting with are on opposite sides of the can get updated information about things world.” that will be useful for them, and that that information is not available to everyone. It’s a
  • 5. For More Information Ultimately, that is the problem that the Microsoft Online ServicesFor more information about Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite from Microsoft Online Services is a business-classproducts and services, call the Microsoft Microsoft Online Services is helping communications and collaboration softwareSales Information Center at (800) Competiveness to overcome. The goal of offering delivered as a subscription service,426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft ease of computing was impossible to achieve hosted by Microsoft, and sold with partners.Canada Information Centre at (877) when Competitiveness consultants were These services help make it easier for568-2495. Customers who are deaf or using multiple online applications and having customers to rapidly and cost-effectivelyhard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text to disrupt their work by dealing with multiple access the most up-to-date technologies, andtelephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) passwords or adjusting to inconsistent user are designed for rapid deployment to provide892-5234 in the United States or (905) interfaces. customers with streamlined communications,568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 simplified management, and business-classUnited States and Canada, please contact “Every delay compromises this goal,” says reliability and security.your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access Duch. “So every distraction that you caninformation using the World Wide Web, go remove becomes critical. You want the For IT staff, Microsoft Online Services helpsto: www.microsoft.com interaction with the tools you need to do your reduce the burden of performing routine IT work to feel frictionless—and when we had a management tasks such as installation,For more information about Centro de dozen tools and passwords and user provisioning, ongoing maintenance, patches,Innovación en Productividad products and interfaces it was not frictionless at all. That’s updates, and upgrades, making it possible forservices, call +34 93 877 2100 or visit the why the level of integration we gain through them to spend more time on initiatives thatWeb site at: www.productivitycenter.org the Business Productivity Online Suite and move the business forward. These services Microsoft Online Services is important. It will are backed by strong SLAs and are designedFor more information about help us operate far more effectively as an to meet the regulatory compliance andCompetitiveness products and services, online organization.” reliability needs of enterprise customers. Oncall +34 669 86 55 00 or visit the Web site a technical level, the services boast theat: www.competitiveness.com sophistication and reliability that customers expect from Microsoft, which continues to invest heavily in building data centers to support these services. For more information, visit: www.microsoft.com/online Software and Services Microsoft Office Communications Online Microsoft Online Services Office Live Meeting Microsoft Exchange Online Microsoft SharePoint OnlineThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFTMAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THISSUMMARY.Document published March 2009